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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Emilio Morenatti/AP People queuing up hold plastic bottles to refill drinking water from a tank in the centre of Mykolaiv.
# War in Ukraine
Ukrainians fleeing to Ireland and other countries amid 'increasing power cuts and harsh winter'
An Irish charity has been sourcing generators in stricken cities, with over 1,100 towns losing electricity last week.

AN INCREASING NUMBER of Ukrainians are leaving the country due to widespread electricity cuts amid renewed attacks on key infrastructure by Russia, an Irish charity has said.

Goal has also warned that the coming harsh weather set will “only make conditions worse” for those stuck in the country as it faces its first winter under attack from Russia.

It comes amid mounting pressure on Ireland’s accommodation system, and after a meeting of senior government figures last night to discuss new measures to accommodate the number of Ukrainian refugees entering the country.

Ukraine’s power grid has been pummelled ahead of winter’s arrival with over 1,100 towns left without power last week.

“Few, if any, places in Ukraine are currently safe from the conflict,” Dr Georgina Jordan, Head of Emergency Response with Goal told The Journal

featureimage LIBKOS / AP Renewed attacks have been taking place on Ukraine in recent weeks, with Russian authorities reporting that they are building defensive positions in occupied areas of the country. LIBKOS / AP / AP

The organisation has been scaling up its operations in Ukraine following increased attacks by Russia, as efforts are made by Goal to source generators for shelters along with food, furniture and bedding for city councils in Lviv, Irpin and Chernihiv.

“The increase in intensity of the conflict in recent weeks, along with ongoing widespread electricity cuts due to the destruction of key infrastructure, means that conditions for people across Ukraine are becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous,” Jordan said.

“The coming harsh winter weather will only make those conditions worse.

“About a quarter of the population of Ukraine have left their homes since February, and many people may continue to search for safety and security in other parts of Ukraine and abroad.”

Hundreds of properties

The Cabinet sub-committee met last night in a gathering attended by coalition party leaders as well as line ministers such as Roderic O’Gorman and Darragh O’Brien.

It emerged last night that the Government is working on a proposal to double the payment to families who host Ukrainians to €800 in light of the accommodation shortage.

As reported over the weekend, there will also be measures under consideration to incentivise people to leave hotel rooms.

The State is currently paying for one-in-four hotel rooms in the country, with moves under consideration to taper back on free meals for refugees staying in hotels.

Back in May, when Ireland began to prepare for the arrivals of refugees from Ukraine, the government asked local authorities to draw up a list of vacant properties that could be used to house refugees.

It is understood that on the initial list, around 500 properties were identified.

The Journal sought the list from the Department of Housing but the request was refused.

The department, in their refusal of the Freedom of Information request in June, said releasing the information would be contrary to the public interest as the information contained was not yet fully developed “and may cause undue concern among those arrivals and the communities in proximity to where these identified vacant buildings are located”.

The department said the list “would impair the entire deliberative process to a significant or substantial degree”.

The statement went on to say: “It is essential that this deliberate process is protected from undue intrusion”.

The Department added there is a need to “preserve confidentiality having regard to the subject matter” and that releasing the list of properties could “impair future decisions”.

‘Morality’

The Association of Ukrainians in Ireland questioned the morality of steps that could be perceived to discourage those fleeing the country from coming to Ireland.

The group said it was “saddened” by news of potential tightened measures from the government over the past week.

“The war in Ukraine will not end tomorrow, which means we are only at the beginning of our journey of rebuilding the destroyed cities and infrastructure. It will take years,” a spokesperson said.

“It is possible to suspend the reception of refugees – it would be a simple decision, but what about the morality of such a step?”

The statement from the group also said it understands there is an accommodation crisis in Ireland, but noted it may take “years” to rebuild cities and infrastructure in their home country.

“The war in Ukraine will not end tomorrow, which means we are only at the beginning of our journey of rebuilding the destroyed cities and infrastructure,” it said. 

“We ask not to close the borders – any person deserves the right for legal stay and work, therefore, considering the situation, new arrivals should realistically assess it and calculate on their own.” 

It added: “Ireland is a small country with a big heart, it has already accepted almost 60 thousand Ukrainians. Perhaps, if other EU countries were as open, Ukrainians would be more willing to seek shelter there.”

It called for “deeper and more thorough planning” to accommodate not just displaced Ukrainaian people, but also other refugees and Irish people suffering in the housing crisis.

The group added: “Housing is a pan-Irish problem. And this is something that needs to be addressed immediately, not just for refugees, but for all Irish citizens.”

Additional reporting by Christina Finn and Tadgh McNally.

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